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Pakistan’s target of 3.5% GDP in 2023-24 fiscal year “realistic” – finance minister

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ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s finance minister said on Saturday a projection in the government’s budget of 3.5% economic growth for the year ending in June 2024 was a “realistic target”.

The target was “on the lower side”, Ishaq Dar told a press conference in Islamabad, a day after presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2023-24.

The budget is being closely watched by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the South Asian country seeks further bailout money during an economic and balance of payments crisis.

In the year ending this month, Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) was projected to grow just 0.29%. The fiscal deficit for the following fiscal year was projected at 6.54% of GDP, according to the budget.

The country faces a series of economy crises, exacerbated by a stall in bailout funding from the IMF, which analysts said was unlikely to be significantly impressed by the budget.

In addition to requirements related to the currency and budget, Pakistan is required to secure firm and credible financing commitments to close the $6 billion gap in order to unlock funding under its long-delayed ninth IMF review. The government has gotten commitments of only $4 billion, mainly from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(Reporting by Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam and Ariba Shahid; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Michael Perry and William Mallard)

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